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  • 4 Therapy Approaches for Childhood Trauma

    According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), roughly two-thirds of adolescents and teens report experiencing at least one traumatic event by the age of 16. Luckily, a qualified therapist can help kids navigate and process their emotions related to the trauma.

    Ramifications of Childhood Trauma

    Whether it’s physical or sexual abuse, emotional neglect, homelessness, or the sudden loss of a loved one, childhood trauma leaves a lasting impact on the child and even the adult they grow into. While everyone handles trauma differently, there are some common symptoms experienced by most. These include:

    • Anxiety (especially separation anxiety)
    • Trouble sleeping and increasing nightmares
    • Acting out
    • Loss of appetite
    • Moodiness
    • Becoming easily angry or aggressive
    • Depression
    • Isolation
    • Withdrawing from friends and social activities
    • Problems concentrating
    • Self-harming behaviors

    4 Therapy Approaches to Childhood Trauma

    As I mentioned, there are treatment options that can help kids decrease their symptoms and learn how to cope with triggers.

    1. Trauma-Focused CBT

    Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is considered the gold standard for children and adolescents with PTSD. TF-CBT is a therapeutic intervention designed to help children ages 3-18, and their parents overcome the impact of traumatic events. TF-CBT is a therapeutic intervention designed to help children, adolescents, and their parents overcome the impact of traumatic events. TF-CBT teaches children and their caretakers how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected and assists them in developing new ways of coping with their traumatic stress reactions. TF CBT helps reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety, or acting out behaviors which are common in children exposed to trauma.

    2. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

    Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is related to the more well-known cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and is often the go-to for many therapists when addressing the effects of PTSD. With this particular treatment approach, a therapist will help the teen or adult process the trauma as well as offer tools to identify and address negative thinking related to traumatic events.

    3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

    EMDR is an effective treatment for helping people process trauma. A therapist leads the client through a series of repetitive eye movements that help them re-pattern memories of trauma. Before the eye movements begin, the therapist will take time to gather the client’s history, assess, and prepare them so the desensitization has the best chance of working.

    4. Play therapy

    For very young children that have experienced trauma, it can be intimidating to open up and vocalize their thoughts and emotions. Using the therapeutic power of play, therapists help children as young as 3 work through their trauma. 

    If you or someone you love has experienced trauma in childhood and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. We would be happy to discuss how therapy can help you move through the pain and live your best life.